"F.A.A. Nears New Rules on Devices"

(F.A.A. expected to relax restrictions on preflight use of electronic devices. Advisory panel to apparently submit recommendations by end-of-month, with policy expected to change next year.)

“F.A.A. Nears New Rules on Devices”

Source: nytimes.com (excerpt below)

The rules on when to turn off electronic devices on airplanes have long been a sour, and sometimes contentious, point for travelers. But faced with a surge of electronics on airplanes and under pressure from a growing number of tech-savvy — and increasingly tech-dependent — passengers, the Federal Aviation Administration recognized that change was inevitable.

This week, an F.A.A. advisory panel will meet to complete its recommendations to relax most of the restrictions. The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, according to several of the panel’s members who requested anonymity because they could not comment on the recommendations. The ban on sending and receiving e-mails and text messages or using Wi-Fi during takeoff or landing is expected to remain in place, as is the prohibition on making phone calls throughout the flight, the panel members said.

The panel will recommend its new policy to the F.A.A. by the end of the month and it will most likely go into effect next year.

The coming change represents a cultural milestone of sorts for the digital age, the moment when mass travel and mass communication finally meet.

Airlines and pilots have reported hundreds of instances over the years where they suspect electronic devices caused some cockpit instruments to malfunction. But the evidence is largely anecdotal, and regulators have never been able to establish conclusively that electronic devices interfered with flight instruments.

About friggin’ time. The regulation amounts to a superstition, since a Kindle emits all of 3 x 10^-5 volt per meter if not actually connected to a cellular network. You could pile about 1000 of them into the cockpit without affecting anything, and far more in the passenger cabin - since like all undirected emissions, it falls off with the square of the distance.

I always find it amusing when the in-flight entertainment system is still running (including on some Qantas flights where they actually give each passenger an iPad to use) during landing, and yet any passenger reading their Kindle is publicly scolded for not turning it off.

This is actually the first time I’ve heard of something that will make air travel easier for the average passenger since 9/11 (literally everything else, from boarding area limitations, mandatory strip searches/feelups, baggage fees, smaller seats, fewer allowed carryons, liquids limitations, etc., has made it moderately to extremely less pleasant). So, I mean, that’s pretty neat.

Bear in mind airlines also have to allow it.

This. So sick and tired of the ludicrous dog and pony show they put on to try and look like they are doing something useful.

I never felt the current rule was draconian. I can use my device for most of the flight. I can live without it for 20 minutes or so.

No, not draconian, just ridiculous.

I’m quite happy about this. Putting the Kindle away for 10 to 15 minutes at the start of a flight isn’t such a big deal – but sometimes, it’s an hour or more. Flying out of, say, LGA on a Friday when it’s raining, and you can wait a very long time between the cabin door closing and 10,000 feet.

Being 6’3", slightly claustrophobic and in a career that requires an enormous amount of air travel is not the best possible combination, and I need the distraction of reading :)

When you fly a lot, those 20+ minutes taking off and landing add up to a lot of flicking through the crappy in-flight magazine.

It’s a plot to support paperback book sellers, I think.